Courtesy of Tufts University Sports Informtion
SOMERVILLE, Mass. - Visiting Wesleyan University led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and made it stand for a 35-14 victory at Tufts University in a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football opener at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field on Saturday afternoon.
Wesleyan sophomore quarterback Jesse Warren threw touchdown passes of 17 and 10 yards in the first seven minutes and finsihed his first collegiate start 14 for 21 with 165 yards and three touchdowns overall. Cardinals sophomore running backs Kyle Gibson and LaDarius Drew each rushed for a touchdown and helped Wesleyan accumulate 215 yards on the ground.
Tufts senior tight end Nick Kenyon caught two touchdown passes and finished with seven receptions for 80 yards. Sophomore running back Zack Trause ran nine times for 47 yards and caught seven passes for 57 more.
Wesleyan's returning All-Conference DB Jake Bussani (NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week - Pictured Left) had an interception on the first play of the game leading to Wesleyan's first touchdown. The Cardinals drove 39 yards on eight plays and scored with a 17-yard pass from Warren to freshman WR Rob Manning with 10:52 on the clock.
After a bad snap resulted in a short Tufts punt, Wes set up on the Jumbo 35 and soon added to their lead. Drew carried three times for 25 yards and then Warren hit junior tight end Kevin Hughes with a 10-yard scoring pass at the 8:06 mark.
The Wesleyan defense sacked Tufts starting QB Jack Doll three times on the next possession, including one-and-a-half by senior tri-captain Andy McKeon. Doll had to leave the game.
Tufts freshman Wes Hartmann picked off a pass on the ensuing Cardinal possession, but then Wesleyan's Donnie Cimino had an interception and 42-yard return that led to their third score. Three plays later, Drew ran 11 yards into the end zone for a 21-0 Cardinal lead at 1:16.
Early in the second quarter, Tufts showed some life. A 43-yard punt by Marty Finnegan pinned Wesleyan at their own four-yard line. The Jumbo D held the Cardinals three-and-out and the offense took over at midfield. A Wesleyn off-sides penalty on fourth down gave the Jumbos a first, and senior QB John Dodds soon found Kenyon for a 17-yard TD pass making it 21-7 at 9:42 of the second.
Later in the quarter, a personal foul penalty on Tufts advanced Wesleyan into Jumbo territory. On third-and-seven from the Tufts 25, Warren threw his third touchdown pass of the afternoon to sophomore Josh Hurwitz. The Cardinals led 28-7 with 3:18 remaining in the half.
Tufts returned fire, mounting an excellent 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive that culminated with a five-yard TD pass from Dodds to Kenyon. Dodds had completions of 20 yards to Kenyon and 23 yards to junior Pat Nee during the drive. After a Cardinals' interception was nullified by a pass interference penalty, Dodds and Kenyon connected with just eight seconds remaining until halftime.
After the offensive output of the first half, the teams went scoreless in the third quarter. The Cardinals twice moved inside the Tufts 30 during the period, but an interception by Jumbo senior Tommy Castle and a fourth-down stop by sophomore linebacker Tommy Meade and freshman LB Matt McCormack kept Wesleyan at bay.
However, after Tufts turned the ball over on downs early in the fourth, Wesleyan added another score. Gibson did all of the heavy lifting, carrying six times for 57 yards including a five-yard touchdown. That put the visitors up 35-14 at 10:21 of the fourth.
Bussani added his second interception of the day later in the period as the Cardinals wrapped up the win. Sophomore Jake Siciliano added to the Wesleyan defensive effort with 10 tackles (five solo), two pass break-ups, and a sack. The Cardinals recorded four sacks for 16 yards in losses overall.
Gibson finished right on 100 yards in 15 carries, while Drew had 98 on 21 totes. Sophomore Jay Fabien was the leading Wesleyan receiver with six catches for 75 yards. The Cardinals finished with 380 yards of total offense.
For Tufts, Dodds completed 19 passes for 170 yards and the two scores. Meade led the defense with 11 stops and McCormack had 10. Senior cornerback Vincent Lee broke up two passes and freshman Patrick Williams had a sack.
Tufts (0-1) hosts Bates on Homecoming Day next Saturday at Ellis Oval/Zimman Field. Kickoff is at 1 pm. Wesleyan (0-1) opens its home schedule next Saturday against Hamilton with a 1 pm kickoff.